On Friday 24 February (2023) I was back in the University of Amsterdam Aula for the first time since my Inaugural Lecture, this time for a different sort of event and to mark a very different occasion. A benefit concert was organised by the University of Amsterdam and the TRIDA Foundation to mark a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The benefit raised funds for humanitarian aid to Ukraine and to support talented Ukrainian refugees who are currently in the Netherlands. The Aula was packed out and decked in the Ukrainian blue and yellow. The amazing music was provided by Ukrainian classical and folk artists, some as young as 9, who cannot currently be in their country. The host was Dutch radio and television presenter Jet Berkhout. The concert was attended by the Mayor of Amsterdam (Femke Halsema), the Ukrainian Ambassador (Maksym Kononeko), the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs (Wopke Hoekstra), and the Chair of the Board of the University of Amsterdam (Geert ten Dam), as well as the Ellen Rutten (Prof. of Slavic Studies) who had instigated the event.
During the concert the Ukrainian Ambassador gave an impressive and moving speech in which he called for continued, and strengthened, support for Ukraine against Russian aggression. Different routes to supporting Ukraine, their scholars and their artists through this difficult time include:
- Amsterdam Universiteit fonds for refugees
- Davids Bundler Music Academy – founded in 2022 specifically to support Ukrainian musicians in the Netherlands
- The TRIDA Foundation – non-profit organisation supporting humanitarian aid to Ukraine
- The University of New Europe – connecting and supporting scholars, students and cultural workers across Europe
- United 24 – providing humanitarian support to Ukraine